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This project will capture High Definition Video 1280x720 at 30fps, and hopefully be capable of 60fps and maybe even 1080p. I intend to use a cheap FPGA, A HiSpeed USB PHY, and an Analog Devices Video A/D chip. I will nail down exact chip numbers later. The target platform driver and example code will be written for linux. This project is more a proof of concept and more for fun and excercise rather than to be practical. But I will take any advice and help that I can get and who knows what we might create here. Entire BOM should be less than $40 but we'll see.

Yes I know about the Hauppage HD-PVR or whatever its called that Capures Component video at 720p. The problem is that device uses H.264 encoding, which is just way too expensive to decode, it takes a Dual Core 1GHz Machine at 99%. It is also not totally open to hacking.

How To Volunteer

If you are interested in helping please contact mention @electronjunkie on twitter or email me at lm317t_AT_gmail_DOT_com, replace _DOT_ and _AT_ with "." and "@" to make it a valid email address.

I need help with board layout in Eagle, USB interfacing and drivers, organization.

Current Status / News

03/11/2010 Added "How To Volunteer" section. Found this core that should work with the USB chip here:,usb

03/09/2010 Created the ad9883a part and package in Eagle. I Began researching what it takes to get the USB3318 chip to work. I am also Considering maybe using the TSB41AB1 1394/Firewire chip. USB is a PITA to work with because of the protocol overhead. If we do Firewire, it will be in addition to USB.

I am in the planning/brainstorming stages, although I have been researching this for at least the last 6-8 months.

I have a working Forward/Reverse DCT algorithm in matlab (actually Gnu Octave) that can compress an image 5:1 with little loss in quality. I have also done much research on putting a DCT in hardware. Currently the DCT will be broken down into 2 stages, and all multiplies/adds will likely be done using a very parallel bit-wide pipeline to keep clock speeds high.

Data Bandwidth Issues YUV422 720p data comes in at roughly 1280*720*30*16 = 443 MegaBits/s. HiSpeed USB is 480Mbits/s which, after taxes, is probably not enough. Note that 720p60 is twice that. Either way using the DCT and some Huffman coding along with other simple compression techniques we can squeeze the data down a little without hurting quality too bad. My goal is to get it down to 150Mbits/s


Yes video data is highly redundant, but the only way to utilize this redundancy is by adding much more complexity and hardware/memory. For example, if you just want to compare two frames to encode the difference, you must know what the last compressed frame was. In hardware that means storing the previous compressed frame, decompressing that block, and then comparing the data. This adds almost twice the complexity and hardware, and makes the memory requirements much larger than exist on cheap FPGA's. Any help here would be appreciated though.


All files for this project are licensed under the GNU GPL V3

Prototyping Hardware (Under constant review)


An example program will be written using the SDL library. Linux Drivers will likely use libusb unless I have to go lower level. I am newb to Linux kernel drivers but I ain't scared ;)

Also I ain't a newb to linux or programming, just haven't written a driver yet, other than one for a parallel port a while back but that was for a simple I/O project w/ a PC.

Current Plan of Action

Phase 1

  • Design A PCB that has the USB PHY and Video A/D converter that can interface with my Spartan FPGA Board
  • Write a simple USB state machine for the FPGA
  • Write a simple driver that can interface with the USB PHY and FPGA
  • Write a simple program that can flash LED's on the FPGA and read data from the FPGA

Phase 2

  •  ???

Phase 3

  • Profit!